Rich Lowry

In full psychoanalytical mode, Bill Clinton once observed, "I was born at 16, and I'll always feel I'm 16."

In this, Bill Clinton displayed unusually acute self-awareness. After two terms as president of the United States and a post-presidential career as a world celebrity adored by all the great and good, Bill Clinton is still 16. In recent weeks, he has proved that adolescents can't be elder statesmen.

His performance on Hillary's behalf has been desperate, accusatory, self-pitying and misleading. It has been a full-on blast of Bill Clinton's do-whatever's-necessary ethic of the sort we haven't seen since he wagged his finger at the country almost 10 years ago and denied having sex with Monica Lewinsky (in itself, an adolescent escapade that could have been straight out of "National Lampoon's White House").

During his presidency, Clinton was supposedly assailed by the forces of Republican extremism and of an out-of-control special prosecutor. Now, he's being attacked by the forces of hope and change. Barack Obama has, by almost any standard, run a scrupulously high-minded campaign.

But that hasn't mattered. As far as Bill Clinton is concerned, Obama might as well be a member of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. Obama is guilty of what they call in the laws of war a "status offense." He is running against Hillary, and therefore interposing himself between the Clintons and the object of their ambitions. This makes him as much fair game as Newt Gingrich, Paula Jones or Ken Starr.

Bill Clinton has distorted nearly everything he's commented on lately, whether it's Obama's record on the war or the Nevada caucus process. Before the caucuses, Clinton said that Obama-supporting union officials were following him around a Las Vegas hotel, telling workers who came up to him to express support for Hillary that their work schedules would be changed so they couldn't attend the caucus. Fantastic on its face, the Clinton campaign hasn't produced any evidence to buttress this "fairy tale."

Clinton has usually delivered his anti-Obama broadsides in a state of red-faced near-rage, as though the Clinton campaign -- with all its formidable advantages going into this year -- has been offended against at every turn. What he is displaying is the face of aggrieved entitlement, and his trademark hypersensitivity about his own legacy -- both of which are informed by his overweening ego and inability to control it.


Rich Lowry

Rich Lowry is author of Legacy: Paying the Price for the Clinton Years .
 
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